SUN CITY – Sergio Garcia “rolled the ball nicely” to storm to a blemish-free opening round of 64 and lead the Nedbank Golf Challenge by four strokes yesterday.
He birdied the first hole of the day in a sign of things to come, and then twice reeled off three birdies in a row - between nine and 11, and again from 15 to 17 - to finish four shots clear of Miko Korhonen, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Charl Schwartzel.
“I felt great,” said Garcia afterwards. “I rolled the ball nicely. I made some good putts here and there. One of those rounds where things kind of happened nicely to me. I think I played very smart. I probably wasn’t swinging unbelievably, but I kept it under control. I kept the ball in play all the time, which is difficult to do here.”
For Garcia, being able to read the swirling winds around a course situated in a bowl of mountains was key.
On a day where many of the big names found trouble at least once or twice during the round Garcia’s performance was all the more impressive.
Behind Garcia, Lorenza-Vera was bogey-free for his 68, while Korhonen and Schwartzel each dropped just once. A further stroke back on 69 was a group of six players, which included SA’s 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. He got off to a fast start and was four-under after seven, but a bogey at eight seemed to unsettle him and he made just one more birdie and another bogey on his way home.
Defending champion Branden Grace carded a 2-under 70 to find himself six off the pace.
64 - Sergio Garcia
68 - Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Mikko Korhonen , Charl Schwartzel
69 - Ashun Wu , Benjamin Hebert , Andy Sullivan , Matt Wallace , Louis Oosthuizen , Jason Scrivener
70 - Ryan Fox, Branden Grace